When the Republican National Convention kicked off in Cleveland on Monday, The Huffington Post wanted to learn how the city is responding to some of our nation’s biggest challenges, including homelessness. So we went to Laura’s Home, a women’s crisis shelter, to see how it’s helping the city’s homeless population.
HuffPost’s Alyona Minkovski spoke with Latisha, whose last name is being withheld for her safety, about her move to Laura’s Home with her two young children seven months ago. Latisha said she had been living with the father of her kids in an emotionally unhealthy environment, and decided they needed to leave. Even though she didn’t know what to expect at the faith-based shelter, she calls the move her “Christmas miracle.”
“It has helped me tremendously, not only with helping me establish self-value and worth, but helping me to just change my mindset,” Latisha said. “Learning healthy behaviors and what healthy relationships look like ... and just helping me feel confident about the direction I’m heading.”
Latisha said she and other women at the center are simply looking for hope and are “trying to find a way out of a bad situation and to move on with our lives; and not only that, but to provide a stable environment for our family, our children.”
We will have policemen that will show up on our doorsteps with a woman fleeing domestic violence. ... We’re also working with victims of human trafficking. We will always make room, somehow, for those ladies. Joy Trachsel, program manager for Laura’s Home
Laura’s Home is a three-phase program affiliated with The City Mission, a nonprofit charity that provides people in need with services including adult education, vocational training and mental health counseling. Minkovski also spoke with Joy Trachsel, the program manager for Laura’s Home, and Linda Uveges, the program’s COO, to learn how the shelter has served women and children escaping homelessness.
Some estimates put Cleveland’s homeless population at 25,000, but Uveges said the number of women and children in need is growing.
“That’s why we built this facility 13 years ago, because we couldn’t keep up with the need in northeast Ohio,” Uveges said. “So we built this facility to address the growing need of families that are homeless, and single moms.”
Women at the crisis center receive specialized classes to learn how to deal with their situations, plus access to mental health providers, job training, child care services, counseling services and more. It usually takes eight to nine months to complete the program, Traschel said.
“We feel like [the program] gives us time to really get to the root of why they’re homeless and what’s that problem, and then to deal with it,” Trachsel said.
The shelter, which has 168 beds and 55 bedrooms, has remained at full capacity for the past five years, Uveges said. Despite the waiting list, the center makes accommodations in emergencies. Trachsel said they convert available spaces, like a chapel or lounge, into safe places for women.
“We will have policemen that will show up on our doorsteps with a woman fleeing domestic violence,” Trachsel said. “We will immediately bring her in and provide a place for her to stay and then we’re also working with victims of human trafficking. We will always make room, somehow, for those ladies.”
After the program, women leave the shelter “equipped for independent self-sufficiency,” Uveges said.
Latisha looks forward to her life after the program. She said she wants to get a job and go to nursing school so she can be “a blessing for others as well.”
“Don’t be ashamed,” Latisha advised other women in need. “We all make mistakes. We all come from places sometimes that we wish we never had to encounter, but it only makes you stronger in the end. Reach out for help. There’s people out there that are willing to help, and they care genuinely and they don’t want anything from you. They just want to see you do better.”
Learn more about Laura’s Home in the video below.